Season 3, Episode 5 (Good Form)
Captain Hook is an enigmatic character. On the one hand, he is a dastardly villain – a selfish coward who has very little direction in life. As Peter Pan summed him up this week, he is a “one-handed pirate with a drinking problem.” On the other hand, he seems to have a soft spot for certain characters. He seems to be obsessed with order, honour, code, and form, despite wanting break rules and look out for himself. This episode is how to resolve these aspects of him.
Last year, in his debut episode, we learned why Captain Hook hated Rumpelstiltskin and how he lost his hand. This year, we learn how he became a captain in the first place. Chronologically, this episode is one of the earliest flashbacks so far. Peter Pan still has no gang of Lost Boys and is alone in Neverland. Captain Hook is still Killian Jones and has two hands. Presumably, Rumpelstiltskin is still unhappily married to Milah and they have a small son, Baelfire. Hook, or Jones, is a Lieutenant under his brother, and they are sent on a mission by order of the King – which king doesn’t matter, since he is long dead by the events of most of the series, although whose ancestor he is might play a factor – to find a mysterious plant in Neverland. The plant turns out to be a deadly poison, and the betrayal that Hook felt (and the loss of his brother, making him Captain) turned him against the King and persuaded him to become a pirate. In other words, it was his honour that made him a pirate in the first place.
The knowledge that Hook gained from his first trip to Neverland (the current adventure being his third) turns out to be invaluable to Prince Charming, since it saves him from a painful and needless death. The Charmings – Emma in particular – have the odd effect of bringing out the good and honourable in Hook. However, Peter Pan knows just which buttons to press. First, he tempts him with the idea of easily killing the Prince. When that doesn’t work, he brings out the big guns: Neal/Baelfire is still alive and in Neverland, and thus an obstacle in the way of Hook having any lasting romance with Emma.
Speaking of Emma, the women of the group manage to contact Henry to let him know that they are trying to rescue him and thus encouraging him not to give up hope. Whether or not Henry believes them remains to be seen, but he does brighten at hearing their voices.
Next week, enter Ariel!
Season 6, Episode 6 (Get a Clue)
Finally, a good, old-fashioned treasure hunt! Excepting that the first clue was a gruesomely-murdered accountant, this week’s episode was a fun outing perfect for Hallowe’en week. Castle and Beckett found the clues, solved the puzzle, found the buried treasure, got stuck in some tight spots, and caught the murderer. Along the way, there were plenty of nods to The Da Vinci Code, Indiana Jones, and other treasure heist tales.
However, the “get a clue” of the title primarily referred to Castle’s relationship with his daughter. Alexis is nineteen years old and has just moved out on her own and in with her boyfriend. Obviously, Castle is not comfortable with this. Most fathers don’t want their little girls to grow up. Castle is no exception. He is even more over-protective and concerned for her because he has primarily raised Alexis on his own, she is his only child, and she has always been more book-smart than street-smart.
Nonetheless, Alexis has grown up. She is still responsible and level-headed even as she is in love, which is something more than many young women her age. She wants to do things on her own, even if that means living in a cheap apartment with a door as a dining table and chairs from a dumpster. She isn’t mooching off of her wealthy father – she even wants to pay for her rent. Her father, on the other hand, knows that he can provide her with better material things.
From Alexis’s perspective, her father is moving on with a new fiancée. For her, that meant being sidelined. She was always her daddy’s number one girl – Castle’s second marriage failed in part because of his relationship with his daughter. After getting over the shock, Alexis moved on. She realised that she needed to get on with her own life, even if it seemed a tad quickly. She is not Daddy’s Little Girl anymore, and now it is time for her daddy to realise that. He can’t make everything better with ice cream and a hug anymore, nor can he just barge into her apartment to give her lectures.
This is actually a healthy development for Castle’s family overall. Alexis is old enough to have her own life and household, even if she comes to visit often or does her laundry at her father’s. Martha does not need to be taken care of. Castle and Beckett can pursue their own relationship together as a couple. Young adult children from previous marriages can be complications in a marriage, but it seems that Alexis is still handling the situation in a relatively mature and reasonable way. She is far from being a brat. She is breaking up with her father so that he can move on to Beckett. Now he has to get a clue and do just that.
Season 7, Episode 5 (Murdoch of the Living Dead)
Zombies done right!
This is not the first episode of Murdoch Mysteries to touch on the subject of zombies, but this is the first one where the writers used horror movie clichés and style to present a mystery.
The zombies in this story are not monsters, nor are they deceased (except according to their death certificates). Rather, they are simply men with altered brains, which end up being a good deal more scary. The first man is a formerly violent wife-beater who becomes docile and confused. The second man discovered is an ex-convict who was beaten to death without even raising his arms in self-defence. As it turns out, both men had suffered brain damage due to surgery.
It was at this point in the story that I thought: Oh, right, brains, altered behaviour, criminals – of course this is someone’s idea of a science experiment to better mankind. They want to get rid of crime. Between brain damage and eugenics, society could be perfect.
While I was not surprised at this twist in the story, I was pleased at the resolution. The men who were docile were equally balanced by the men whose violent tendencies were heightened to the point that this was all they knew. They had been reduced to an animalistic state (likely a very painful one at that) and they indeed resembled modern depictions of zombies. They were let loose on Toronto, and at the end of the episode, no one is quite sure what to do with them. They are hardly human anymore.
Equally, however, the docile ex-criminals have little left to look forward to in life. They cannot be productive members of society because their brains have been too damaged to form proper memories and remember how to do certain basic tasks, as well as the fact that they surgery has removed their desires and motivation to do anything at all. Furthermore, they have criminal histories and cannot defend themselves against those that they have wronged seeking revenge. They are like helpless children.
The moral of the tale? Brain surgery is not a good remedy for crime. Luckily, the elitist academic doctor who conducts the illegal experiments finds this out the hard way.
Also – Murdoch, shouldn’t you know better by now not to go into dark basements alone with no backup? It never ends well.
Season 5, Episode 5 (The Works)
In time for Hallowe’en, this episode finds Jake Doyle in the middle of a case where crimes have been committed and staged in such a way to replicate scenes from the book of mystery-writer Garrison Steele. Furthermore, Garrison Steele is also in the middle of the case – and of the crime scenes.
While Steele has based one of his latest main characters on Jake, he has portrayed him as a hapless buffoon. Jake may be extremely lucky and hot-headed, but it is Steele who is the hapless buffoon, which only makes Jake’s job harder as he and his family virtually have to babysit him while they investigate. Just about the only good thing he does is give some advice to Jake regarding his relationship with Leslie – and said advice might not be such a good thing after all.
Throughout this episode, Jake has to deal with finding out that a) Leslie was previously married, and b) her supposedly-dead husband is very much alive and wants his life back. Both men, however, are very much alike. Watching them band together to fight off thugs was quite impressive. Jake, however, once again leaves Leslie in the lurch to look after someone else, and her dearly-not-so-much-departed husband steps into the void. One cannot blame the poor woman for being confused.
Finally, the beta-couple romantic front continues to be positive: Tinny decides to confront Des and they share a passionate kiss that is unfortunately cut too soon to another scene. Where these two are headed is still too early to tell – perhaps this will all be nullified next week – but five years have been long enough. No more dancing around.